Household Thermal Management
Residential temperature is controlled via an interaction between consumer behavior and automatic equipment. In North America, consumer management of heating and ventilation has a large effect on energy use in the residential sector. This chapter describes new methods for studying this consumer behavior, combining intensive ethnographic interviewing and electronic instruments. A study of seven houses shows patterns of thermostat settings over both daily and seasonal cycles. Household thermal management is determined by temperature preferences, trade offs between comfort and cost, and consumers' own theories about heat transmission and equipment operation.
North American residences have completed a transition in home heating control. At the turn of the century, heating was accomplished with manually operated solid fuel stoves. The resident controlled heat output by regulating
This research is supported by grants from the Michigan State University Agricultural Experiment Station (project 3152), and the National Science Foundation (BNS 8210088). I gratefully acknowledge data collection and analysis assistance from P. Froom, J. Keith, S. Krabacher, and J. Weihl.